Jenney's Story
3rd July 2018

Jenney's Story

Jenney, who has been a member of The IBS Network for a few years, tells her story of living with IBS.

I was first given a positive diagnosis of IBS over thirteen years ago although I had suffered with symptoms for many years prior to this. Looking back, I’d probably suffered with IBS since I was a young adult, and I'm now 69.

At the moment, my symptoms are ‘fairly’ under control but in the past I’ve experienced stomach cramps, flatulence (which is still a regular problem) severe diarrhoea where I have no advance warning and just can’t wait, to then alternating with constipation. Frequently, I have a feeling of only partial elimination and need to regularly visit the loo several times a day.

I decided to radically change my diet to help reduce my symptoms. For me, this means no dairy, no red meat, nothing high fibre, only certain vegetables and fruits and absolutely NO onions or garlic, minimal alcohol and no tea. I take soluble fibre every day, with a strong peppermint capsule and a pre- & probiotic capsule. I also take a multivitamin and mineral supplement. 

My ‘go to’ medication is a liquid available from the pharmacy which contains morphine hydrochloride and peppermint oil which seems to settle my diarrhoea quickly, comforts the griping pain and doesn't cause constipation the next day. I do also keep Loperamide in the medicine cabinet, just in case, but rarely use it.

Recently, I was also diagnosed with advanced arthritis in my neck and shoulder and have been prescribed gabapentine for the pain. Since then my IBS symptoms have improved a lot – the doctor did say it might help.

I am now retired so life with IBS is simpler as I don't have to stick to such a tight schedule. My days vary as I am an avid crafter, volunteer for Marie Curie and swim to help keep myself fit.

I am divorced and not in a relationship but I’m able to go out with friends. Over recent years, I have become more confident in socialising so long as I can be sure there are toilets nearby.

Travelling abroad has always been a challenge for me. Arranging meetings and appointments have frequently been a problem as I always worry that I might get suffer an IBS attack. I’ve learnt to become quite ‘upfront’ with friends and they do seem to understand. When I worked full-time I passed on information to my boss who was helpful and made sure that at meetings I had a seat near to the exit. This meant that if I did have to leave it was with the minimum of fuss and disruption.

I go to the cinema and theatre but always make sure I have a seat at the end of a row. Buses are a definite no for me, mainline trains are fine as are ‘luxury coaches’ as both have loos. I prefer to drive my own car when going to events just in case I have an IBS ‘accident’ which has happened in the past. I'm happy to take passengers with me though!

In the future, it would be great to encourage a better understanding by non-IBS sufferers, particularly in shops and other public buildings so that toilet facilities are available, without having to explain the condition to them. Lobbying to avoid the closure of public toilets and making IBS less of a taboo subject, would also be good goals for the charity to achieve in time!

Having IBS has changed my life in many ways especially my confidence in new situations and strange places. My social life did become very restricted when my symptoms were at their worst. I found the whole problem very embarrassing. I am most grateful to my best friends for their help and support and for ignoring the noises and smells too! Life has improved and I'm doing more and more things over time and treating each step forward as a success. There is life with IBS!

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